Anniversaries of significance in Canada

Each year, the Government of Canada recognizes anniversaries of national significance to promote knowledge and understanding for all.

These anniversaries remind us to reflect on our history, our heritage and our shared accomplishments and to think about the country of tomorrow, what we want to be and what we want to achieve together.

These are some of the people and events that have shaped Canada’s rich history and diverse communities of today.

Medallion representing an Indigenous and an Eurocanadian dressed in traditional outfits shaking hands
Medal commemorating Treaty No. 11

150th anniversary of the signing of Treaties 1 and 2; 100th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 11

Treaty No. 1 and Treaty No. 2 were made 150 years ago, the first of eleven ‘numbered treaties’ between the Queen and First Nations in western and northern Canada. The first two treaties were negotiated between the Crown’s representatives and Anishinaabe and Mushkego chiefs in the newly formed province of Manitoba. Treaty No. 11, was signed at eight fur trade posts in the summer of 1921 with the Gwich’in, Tlicho and Sahtu First Nations in what is now the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

Illustration representing Agnes Campbell Macphail next to the Parliament of Ottawa
Agnes Campbell Macphail

The 100th anniversary of the election of Agnes Campbell Macphail, first female Member of Parliament

For decades after Confederation, women were not permitted to participate in federal politics. Women agitated for changes to laws that denied them citizenship rights, as part of a decades-long movement for greater equality. Not until 1918 did the government grant voting rights to women, excluding Indigenous People and racialized minorities. The following year, women won the right to stand for election to the House of Commons. Agnes Macphail led the way, becoming the first female Member of Parliament in 1921.

Illustration representing Viola Desmond in front of a maple leaf mosaic
Viola Desmond

The 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond challenging racial segregation

On November 8, 1946, Viola Desmond was travelling on business and decided to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. She bought a balcony ticket, then challenged the theatre’s segregation by sitting downstairs in the whites-only section. For this, she was arrested. Outraged, the Black Nova Scotian community organized and fought the injustice in a case that has come to represent a turning point in the struggle for rights in Canada.

Image of postage stamp celebrating Canadian multiculturalism
Postage stamp celebrating Canadian multiculturalism

50th anniversary of the Multiculturalism Policy

In 1971, the government of Canada introduced a multiculturalism policy that helped foster a respect for diversity in the minds of Canadians. It recognized the many ethno-cultural communities that make up the fabric of Canada. Initially symbolic, through the decades, the policy has promoted respect for diversity and contributed to preserving a multitude of cultural identities in Canada. While barriers still exist 50 years later, the concept of multiculturalism has become embedded in the civic identity of many Canadians.

Illustration representing three characters from different Indigenous groups in Canada
There are three groups of Indigenous peoples in Canada: First Nations, Inuit and Métis

25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day provides opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and exceptional contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. Over the last quarter century NIPD has been observed on June 21st, the summer solstice and longest day of the year. The date was selected for its important symbolism to many Indigenous cultures. In the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, it is a statutory holiday.